Tutoring a unit that since 2006 has annually ranked among the Saints’ most productive position groups, assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt enters his eighth season in New Orleans.Vitt has obtained solid results from veterans, while also helping develop younger players. Under his supervision, Jonathan Vilma has led the Saints in tackles three times and been selected to the Pro Bowl twice, Scott Shanle posted 673 stops over seven seasons and Scott Fujita provided four solid seasons from the strongside position with a nose for the ball, posting 417 tackles, including three consecutive seasons of over 100 stops, 7.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six takeaways.
Tutoring a unit that since 2006 has annually ranked among the Saints’ most productive position groups, assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt enters his eighth season in New Orleans.
Vitt has obtained solid results from veterans, while also helping develop younger players. Under his supervision, Jonathan Vilma has led the Saints in tackles three times and been selected to the Pro Bowl twice, Scott Shanle posted 673 stops over seven seasons and Scott Fujita provided four solid seasons from the strongside position with a nose for the ball, posting 417 tackles, including three consecutive seasons of over 100 stops, 7.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six takeaways.
In 2013, Vitt will be charged with helping the linebacker corps transition to a 3-4 alignment, integrating a group of interior defenders, among them Vilma and Curtis Lofton, who posted 157 stops, with several outside players. One of the most tenured and respected assistants on the Saints staff, in 2012 he assumed head coach Sean Payton’s duties, guiding the club through a challenging period.
Vitt came to the Saints after serving as interim head coach for the final 11 games in St. Louis in 2005. He held the Rams together during a difficult period after previously holding the title of assistant head coach/linebackers. It was part of a two-year stint with the Rams where he also turned a handful of young defenders into a unit that paced the team in tackles each season.
He joined St. Louis after working as linebackers coach in Kansas City from 2000-03. It was with the Chiefs where he first worked with former Saint Fujita, a fifth-round pick who developed into one of Kansas City’s top defenders and led them in tackles twice.
Vitt took over the linebacker corps in Kansas City after tutoring the Green Bay defensive backs in 1999, molding a legion of rookies and young players into a formidable unit that doubled the Packers’ previous-year total by picking off 26 passes. One of his understudies was safety Darren Sharper, who led the Packers with 113 tackles.
From 1995-98, Vitt was linebackers coach for Philadelphia, where he first worked with Payton. In 1998, his group helped the Eagles lead the NFL in pass defense, allowing 170 yards per game. Vitt was assistant head coach and defensive backs coach with the Rams under Chuck Knox from 1992-94 for the franchise’s final three seasons in Los Angeles.
Vitt spent 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (1982-91), holding several titles during that stretch. In 1982 he was defensive quality control coach/assistant strength & conditioning coach. From 1983-87, Vitt was quality control/assistant linebackers coach, and from 1988-91 he tutored the safeties.
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Vitt grew up in Blackwood, N.J., and played four years at linebacker for Towson State, where he was part of a squad that went undefeated in 1974. He and his teammates on the 1976 squad that were the NCAA Division III runner-ups in only the program’s eighth season of existence were honored as a Team of Distinction by the school’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He entered the NFL coaching ranks with the Baltimore Colts as strength/quality control coach from 1979-81.
Vitt and his wife Linda have a son, Joe Jr., a daughter, Jennifer, a granddaughter, McKenzie and a grandson, A.J. An avid supporter of members of the United States military, he was the club’s 2012 nominee for the NFL Salute to Service Award.
PLAYING CAREER: Towson State, 1974-77.
COACHING CAREER: Baltimore Colts, 1979-81; Seattle
Seahawks, 1982-91; Los Angeles Rams, 1992-94; Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-
98; Green Bay Packers, 1999; Kansas City Chiefs, 2000-03; St. Louis Rams, 2004-05; New Orleans Saints, 2006-.
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt speaks with reporters on Monday, December 31, 2012.
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 30, 2012.
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt speaks with reporters after practice on Friday, December 28, 2012.
G Jahri Evans talks about earning his fourth straight trip to the Pro Bowl on Thursday, December 27, 2012.